Fenugreek is an herb similar to clover, which smells and tastes a lot like maple syrup. It is native to the Mediterranean, as well as parts of Europe, and Asia. Its seeds are commonly used for cooking and have been used for a long time in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, but it is probably an herb you have never heard of before. Scientific studies have produced mixed results on the benefits of fenugreek, but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that backs up how much good it can do for some people. If you have never heard of this little herb, take note of these 4 benefits of fenugreek.
Benefits of Fenugreek
1. Lower Blood Sugar
One of the common benefits of fenugreek is that it seems to slow sugar absorption in the stomach and stimulate insulin. This helps to lower blood sugar in people who have diabetes. Fenugreek seeds are high in soluble fiber, which is likely why it helps lower blood sugar. It slows down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates.
It is important to note that taking fenugreek in large doses might cause a harmful drop in blood sugar, so it is important to be mindful of how much you are taking. You should not take a fenugreek supplement or consume large amounts of food that contain fenugreek if you are prone to low blood sugar.
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2. Increased Sex Drive
Fenugreek might also improve interest in sex. One of the most common reasons men use fenugreek supplements is to boost testosterone. There are studies showing that one of the benefits of fenugreek in this regard is an increased libido. In one study, it increased the sex drive of the male participants by 28%. It has also proven to help reduce body fat when paired with regular exercise such as weightlifting.
While most of the research on the benefits of fenugreek and sex drive have been focused on men, women taking a specific fenugreek seed extract may also increase sexual arousal and desire.
3. Reduction of Menstrual Cramps
Many people swear that one of the benefits of fenugreek for females is a reduced menstrual cramping. Fenugreek has been given to women to relieve menstrual cramps (and even pain during childbirth) for thousands of years. That is, at least in part, because fenugreek has been found to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and flatulence-relieving properties.
Not only can it relieve menstrual cramps, it is also effective at reducing PMS symptoms like bloating, those intense period food cravings, and gastrointestinal symptoms like stomach aches and the dreaded period poop!
While there are some over-the-counter medications that can help with some of these symptoms, fenugreek may be a nice natural alternative that actually works better for some women. For other women, it may help reduce your period cramps and some of your other PMS symptoms but still need to be combined with an over-the-counter pain reliever to fully relieve your symptoms.
Fenugreek is often used for increasing breast milk production. A few studies that focused on breastfeeding mothers who drank fenugreek tea show that one of the benefits of fenugreek is that it increased the volume of milk they produced. It can be especially helpful in the early days of breastfeeding.
Again, while there are prescription drugs that are commonly prescribed to boost breast milk production, fenugreek may be an easy natural alternative for breastfeeding mothers. Plus, there haven’t been any findings that infants have any side effects when they had breast milk from mothers taking fenugreek. However, it is always a good idea to consult your doctor before taking any supplements.
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A Few Bonus Benefits
While there have been few scientific studies on these, other benefits of fenugreek seem to include appetite control, lowered cholesterol levels, heartburn relief, relief from various skin issues, and inflammation.
Buying and Using Fenugreek
Fenugreek is commonly consumed in foods. Fenugreek leaves and seeds can commonly be found in most Asian food stores. The leaves are sold as fresh leaves, sprouts, and microgreens commonly known as methi, or as a dried herb. The seeds are sold and used both whole and in powdered form. Fenugreek seeds are quite versatile. They can be eaten as seeds, brewed into tea, made into flour and baked into bread, or pressed into oil.
Supplements containing fenugreek seed powder or fenugreek seed extract are also readily sold by most health food companies and even by Target and Amazon.
Fenugreek doses vary based on the reason you are taking it. There is no single recommended dose, even among the different studies of the herb. Be sure to follow the dosage instructions on the label when buying a supplement and whenever you are unsure, consult a healthcare provider.
A lot of the testosterone-based research uses around 500 mg of fenugreek extract, while research in other areas typically uses doses between 1,000 and 2,000 mg. When using the whole seed, doses between 2 and 5 grams seem to be effective. Again, it varies from study to study so you should do a little research and be sure to read the labels of any product you buy to see what the best dosage is for your intended use.
Supplements are best taken before or with a meal to help with absorption and to avoid an upset stomach. Since fenugreek can help reduce blood sugar, some advice suggests that it is best to take it with a meal that is high in carbohydrates.
While there are lots of benefits of fenugreek, there are also possible side effects to be aware of before adding it to your diet. Those side effects may include diarrhea, upset stomach, bloating, and gas. It can also cause allergic reactions in some people. If you are allergic to other plants in the Fabaceae family, which includes soybeans, peanuts, green peas, and other legumes, you could also be allergic to fenugreek.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Benefits of Fenugreek
What happens if you take fenugreek everyday?
Most studies include participants who took fenugreek everyday. It is perfectly safe. Although, it can cause your urine to have a funny smell and you may even find that you have a maple syrupy smell if you take it in high doses. There is nothing wrong with this health-wise.
What does fenugreek do to your hormones?
Fenugreek has been found to increase hormone levels, especially in men. However, recent studies have shown it can help balance women’s hormones as well.
What is taking fenugreek good for?
All kinds of things! The four benefits above are the most studied but fenugreek may also be helpful for other things such as appetite control, lowered cholesterol levels, heartburn relief, relief from various skin issues, and inflammation.
Is fenugreek safe to take every day?
Yes. Most studies have participants take fenugreek daily. Dosages vary, so be sure to read the label on any supplement you start and/or consult a healthcare provider.
Can you take fenugreek on an empty stomach?
It is not advised to take fenugreek on an empty stomach as it can cause an upset stomach and a reduction in blood sugar.
For an herb that many people probably know nothing about, the benefits of fenugreek are pretty amazing. More and more research is showing what the people who have been using fenugreek for thousands of years, and probably even longer than that, have known all this time. If any of these four benefits of fenugreek have the potential to better your life, it is definitely worth a try.
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